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Construction abounds in coming months

The future is happening right now in McDuffie County.

Construction has either recently started or is soon to start on more than a handful of major projects across the board that will change the face of the county as well as spark an economic boon. That is something for which local leaders are proud.

"There's an awful lot on the board," said Thomson Town Administrator Bob Flanders. "...It's a real positive because it's going to create a beehive of activity here that's going to have the net affect of at least temporarily increasing the economic flow of goods and materials in this area."

One of the first visible fruits of officials' labor will be the Sweetwater Gym, scheduled for completion in June. The $2 million facility has been in planning for a decade and will host basketball, gymnastics, cheerleading and possibly volleyball once finished.

The South McDuffie Fire Station located on Harrison Road is also under construction. And the school system should start building its eighth and ninth grade academy in July.

The old Thomson Company site will get a facelift soon. Environmental work is underway to clean up the site, and construction to "shore up" the buildings was bid out earlier this month.

Also staring soon is construction on major sewer system expansion projects, including Belle Meade as well as Hwy. 150 at I-20. Construction is scheduled to begin later this month.

In late April or early May, construction on a new water filtration system should be underway. Granular activated carbon filters will be installed at the drinking water plants to extract byproducts caused from the chlorination of water that contains organic material.

In addition to the filtration system, the Big Creek Water Plant is scheduled for expansion. It is currently in the pre-engineering stage and will go to bid in late summer. But with all the utilities work, Mr. Flanders hopes the public is understanding.

"Any time you start doing things that affect your utilities systems, it means that there are going to be some periodic inconveniences for the public at large," he said. "...It's just the price that we have to know we're paying for the completion of the project which is hopefully going to make the community a better place to live."

Last week, local leaders got a piece of good news about the East By-pass which is scheduled for work to begin early next year. Mr. Flanders announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation had agreed to handle more than $1.6 million in water, sewer and other utility relocations.

"We are deeply indebted to the DOT commissioner and his lieutenants," Mr. Flanders said during last Thursday night's meeting of the Thomson Town Council.

But with the good news came a warning for the future. Thomson Mayor Bob Knox said local governments would need to start a fund to deal with future utility conflicts.

"There's no way the DOT can continue that because it's just not in their budget," he said.

Also on the DOT's project list inside McDuffie County are the West By-Pass and Three Points Road interchange at I-20. Both are still in the planning stages, but currently construction on I-20 lanes around mile markers 171 and 172 is ongoing.

The town and the county will receive some help from the DOT in the near future to resurface the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport. Local leaders also plan on adding hangars in the next few months to attract business to the facility.

The mound of projects in the works all at once is a coincidence, according to Mr. Flanders, but he said it shows officials have been doing their homework.

"I think it marks the fact that we've been doing a lot of planning, and it takes time to put projects on the board," he said. "From the time they come to inception to the time they come to fruition or completion is a long and arduous task. I'm happy about it because it marks the end of that road for a number of them."

(McDuffie Mirror Publisher Jason B. Smith contributed to this article.)

Web posted on Thursday, March 16, 2006

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